Selecting moderate framed, early-maturing bulls to suit their grass-fed beef operation is paying dividends for Gippsland Angus breeders Danny and Kim Kuch.
The Kuch family have been breeding Angus cattle for nearly 30 years and run 1100 head of cows on 2000 hectares which spans two properties in dry coastal country at Darriman. They also run a flock of 1800 Cashmore Park composite ewes.
“Our emphasis is on breeding early-maturing, easy doing cattle which will do well in our tough conditions,” Mr Kuch said.
They have been sourcing bulls from the Archer family’s Landfall Angus stud in Tasmania for the past three years. Mr Kuch travels to Launceston for the stud’s annual autumn and spring bull sales purchasing two to three bulls at each sale.
“My herd is based on a Banquet and Rennylea cross so I already have plenty of frame in my females, so the thick, meaty, medium-framed bulls I am buying from Landfall are really complimenting my cow herd,” he said.
“They’re also structurally suited to our environment and our grass only grazing program.”
Mr Kuch also has a focus on strong growth estimated breeding values (EBVs) looking for bulls with figures of +90 or more for 400-day weight as well as positive measurements for rib and rump fat.
The breeding program is split between autumn and spring calvers which enables the Kuch family to better utilise the bulls and provides increased marketing flexibility and cash flow opportunities.
With an emphasis on fertility and maintaining a tight calving interval, the heifers have a six week joining period and the cows are joined for eight weeks. The herd is pregnancy scanned six weeks after joining and any dry cows and heifers are sold.
The autumn calvers are sold as weaners at eight to nine months of age in December so they do not need to be carried through summer. The steer portion are sold on AuctionsPlus in lines of 90 to 100 weaners split into weight categories.
“They come off the cows at the end of spring and early summer with the top calves weighing about 350 kilograms,” Mr Kuch said.
“We used to sell them in March at 12 months of age and still only achieve about the same weights because they really don’t put on any weight over the summer, it’s too dry,” he said.
Weight, structure and temperament is the basis for selection of the heifers retained in the herd. The remaining weaner heifers are sold through Landmark International’s live export order to China or marketed to repeat buyers in Gippsland as future breeders.
The spring calvers are run on a separate block with the progeny sold as yearlings at 12 months of age.
‘We wean them in April and move them to our home property as the winters there are more mild and warmer,” Mr Kuch said.
The steers are sold on AuctionsPlus, weighing an average of 350kg to 400kg.